Summary: A look at the evangelistic nature of Jesus’s ministry to the Samaritan woman.
Characteristics of Christ’s Outreach
Introduction: Our church is in a new phase of outreach. Opportunities abound, but we need to be wise and understand how best to take adavatage of the situation. Jesus said the fields are ripe and ready for harvest. If we are to be harvesters we need to follow the lead of Christ the great harvester.
Last week we studied the life of Paul and the mystery made known to him that in Christ all are made one. That is, in the act of Christ in Calvary, in his crucifixion, the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile was broken down. We don’t have to become Jews to follow Jesus; which is to say we are not bound to follow a great set of rules in order to know and follow Christ. And in the same breath we cannot ask nonbelievers to follow all of our rules of conduct before they are permitted to know and follow Christ.
Today we will continue to study concepts of outreach by looking at Christ himself. How did he reach out to, not just the nonbelieving Jews, but specifically how did he reach out to ’OUTSIDERS’? How did Christ minister to those people who were unfamiliar with God, or were unfamiliar with the rules which God gave us to live by.
There are five instances where Jesus made contact with a non-Jewish individual. A sixth instance can be found, but it is unclear that Christ made definite contact. Five times Jesus crosses the barrier between Jew and Gentile to minister to someone in need. This morning we will be looking at just one of those moments; which I believe gives us a clear example of Christ’s ministry to Gentiles.
Jesus has been successful in Judea to the bane of the Pharisees. Now he is left to flee the reaches of the local government (Herod’s). So he heads back to Galilee, as is his custom. But on this occasion verse 4 says, "He had to pass through Samaria". Jews and Samaritans don’t mix. They despised each other. Jews were exclusivists come back from the exile; while Samraitans were half-breed remnants of the Assyrian conquest. Jesus purposes, however, to go through Samaria.
As he is traveling he stops at the noon hour and rests. Takes a good lunch break, and sends his disciples to fetch some food. And while he’s there a woman of the local villiage comes out. This was not a usual sight. Women would come out to fetch water in the cool of the morning as a group. But, this woman comes out in the heat of the day all alone. Now up to this point in the story we don’t know why, but we do know she is an outcast. An unwanted. Someone too embarassed to water with the rest of the group.
And, Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water. His disciples had gone to Burger King to get some lunch and left him all alone. As anyone would he gets thirsty in the heat of the day. Living in South Texas most of you can understand the thirst he would begin to feel. But the woman is painfully aware of the situation. Jews don’t speak to Samaritans. Not only do they not speak to Samaritans, but they wouldn’t speak to a strange woman! The woman turns around bewildered, "Who’s he talking to? I know he ain’t talking to me." She looks around and knows that there’s no one else around. "He must be talking to me." "Mister, who do you think you are talking to me. Jews don’t talk to Samaritans."